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Bald Teenager Wins Beauty Pageant

 

Beauty pageants often evoke images of orange-streaked fake tans, sparkly tiaras, and blindingly white teeth, but one Utah teen has flipped conventional beauty standards by winning a title in the Miss Philippines Earth USA competition, despite a condition that’s caused her to go bald.

Angelica Galindez, a 19-year-old licensed cosmetologist from Salt Lake City, has alopecia, a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss. In many cases, the damage to the follicles isn’t permanent, but Galindez was diagnosed at age 12 and went completely bald three years later. Competing in the Miss Philippines Earth USA pageant — and ditching her wig — was her way of conveying that beauty is not one-size-fits-all.

“It was really hard to lose my hair during puberty, so I wore a hat to school, but boys teased me and ripped it off my head,” said Galindez.  “As I grew older, I came to terms with the fact that my hair wasn’t growing back, so I decided to own it.”

She never dreamed of entering a beauty pageant, but a family friend had other plans, sending photos of Galindez wearing a long brown wig to Bradford Adkins, the director of Miss Philippines Earth USA.

“I had no idea that Angelica was bald until one week before the pageant, when she sent me new photos without a wig,” Adkins says, “At that point, I had already decided she was perfect for the competition, so her alopecia wasn’t an issue.”

Galindez says she wasn’t trying to hide her hair loss; she just needed time to muster the courage to reveal her condition. “But then I decided that this could be an opportunity to show the world that girls like me could be classically beautiful, too,” she says.

Although Galindez was a bit wary of how the other women would react, she was pleasantly surprised by their warm reception. “One girl even said she hoped I’d win, even though she was running against me,” she says.

After competing in the national costume segment, followed by bathing suits, and a dance number — which Galindez says, she “totally messed up” — she was crowned Miss Philippines Water 2014, one of six titles in the pageant (Air, Fire, Earth, Eco-tourism, and Teen). Galindez’s duties include being a Green Ambassador, raising awareness for the environment, and in April, she’s slated to compete in the Miss Philippines Earth USA Nationals, in Manila, Philippines.

In the meantime, Galindez’s studying up on the environment and working as a hair and makeup stylist. “Ironically, hair is my life,” she says. “It’s a little hard because I can’t experiment with my products, but doing hair relaxes me, almost like therapy. And I enjoy working with people who have lost their hair from illness.”   

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